[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Context:
Palliative care services are growing at an unprecedented pace. Yet, the characteristics of the clinician population who deliver these services are not known. Information on the roles, motivations, and future plans of the clinician workforce would allow for planning to sustain and grow the field.
To better understand the characteristics of clinicians within the field of hospice and palliative care.
From June through December 2013, we conducted an electronic survey of American Academy of Hospice and Palliative Medicine (AAHPM) members. We queried information on demographics, professional roles and responsibilities, motivations for entering the field, and future plans. We compared palliative care and hospice populations alongside clinician roles using Chi square analyses. Multivariable logistic regression was used to identify predictors of leaving the field early.
A total of 1365 persons, representing a 30% response rate, participated. Our survey findings revealed a current palliative care clinician workforce that is older, predominantly female, and generally with less than 10 years clinical experience in the field. Most clinicians have both clinical hospice and palliative care responsibilities. Many cite personal or professional growth or influential experiences during training or practice as motivations to enter the field.
Palliative care clinicians are a heterogeneous group. We identified motivations for entering the field that can be leveraged to sustain and grow the workforce.
Journal of pain and symptom management 11/2015; DOI:10.1016/j.jpainsymman.2015.10.016 · 2.80 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The incidence of small vessel-type (lacunar) ischemic strokes is greater in African-Americans compared to whites. The chronic inflammatory changes that result from lacunar stroke are poorly understood. To elucidate these changes, we measured serum inflammatory and thrombotic biomarkers in African-Americans at least 6 weeks post-stroke compared to control individuals. Cases were African-Americans with lacunar stroke (n = 30), and controls were age-matched African-Americans with no history of stroke or other major neurologic disease (n = 37). Blood was obtained >6 weeks post-stroke and was analyzed for inflammatory biomarkers. Freshly isolated peripheral blood mononuclear cells were stimulated with lipopolysaccharide (LPS) to assess immune responsiveness in a subset of cases (n = 5) and controls (n = 4). After adjustment for covariates, the pro-inflammatory biomarkers, soluble vascular cadherin adhesion molecule-1 (sVCAM-1) and thrombin anti-thrombin (TAT), were independently associated with lacunar stroke. Immune responsiveness to LPS challenge was abnormal in cases compared to controls. African-Americans with lacunar stroke had elevated blood levels of VCAM-1 and TAT and an abnormal response to acute immune challenge >6 weeks post-stroke, suggesting a chronically compromised systemic inflammatory response.
Translational Stroke Research 09/2015; 6(6). DOI:10.1007/s12975-015-0424-8 · 2.44 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Objectives: Patients with cancer can experience substantial financial burden. Little is known about patients' preferences for incorporating cost discussions into treatment decision making or about the ramifications of those discussions. The objective of this study was to determine patient preferences for and benefits of discussing costs with doctors. Study Design: Cross-sectional, survey study. Methods: We enrolled insured adults with solid tumors on anticancer therapy who were treated at a referral cancer center or an affiliated rural cancer clinic. Patients were surveyed at enrollment and again 3 months later about cost discussions with doctors, decision making, and financial burden. Medical records were abstracted for disease and treatment data. Logistic regression investigated characteristics associated with greater desire to discuss costs. Results: Of 300 patients (86% response rate), 52% expressed some desire to discuss treatment-related out-of-pocket costs with doctors and 51% wanted their doctor to take costs into account to some degree when making treatment decisions. However, only 19% had talked to their doctor about costs. Of those, 57% reported lower out-of-pocket costs as a result of cost discussions. In multivariable logistic regression, higher subjective financial distress was associated with greater likelihood to desire cost discussions (odds ratio [OR], 1.22; 95% CI, 1.10-1.36). Nonwhite race was associated with lower likelihood to desire cost discussions (OR, 0.53; 95% CI, 0.30-0.95). Conclusions: Patients with cancer varied in their desire to discuss costs with doctors, but most who discussed costs believed the conversations helped reduce their expenses. Patient-physician cost communication might reduce out-of-pocket costs even in oncology where treatment options are limited.
The American journal of managed care 09/2015; 21(9):607-615. · 2.26 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Patients with advanced non-small cell lung cancer (aNSCLC) face a significant symptom burden. Little is known about the frequency and severity of symptoms over time, so we longitudinally characterized patients' symptoms using the Patient Care Monitor (PCM) version 2.0, an electronic symptom-assessment tool.
Ninety-seven patients with aNSCLC completed the PCM at up to four clinic visits. We analyzed symptom data by incidence, severity, type (functional vs. nonfunctional), proximity to death, and cancer anorexia-cachexia syndrome status (CACS).
Functional concerns predominated, even in the non-CACS group. Average severity among the top 5 symptoms was worse for functional than nonfunctional items (mean difference 0.62, 95 % CI 0.22-1.01, P = 0.003). Severe dyspnea and fatigue were the most prevalent nonfunctional symptoms; moderate/severe dyspnea was reported by at least 29 % of patients, and fatigue by over 50 %. Depression was reported infrequently, with over half of patients at each visit reporting "none"; moderate or severe depression was reported in only 2.5-9.3 and 3.4-6.2 % of patients, respectively. The average number of moderate/severe symptoms increased with proximity to death; 84 % reported moderate/severe fatigue in the last 3 months of life, compared to 48 % at ≥12 months from death (P = 0.007).
Patients with aNSCLC face a significant symptom burden, which increases with proximity to death. Symptom type and severity vary by proximity to death, but even patients without overt CACS report significant functional symptoms throughout. We recommend an individualized approach to palliative symptom intervention in advanced lung cancer, based on detailed symptom assessment and tracking.
Supportive Care in Cancer 03/2015; 23(12). DOI:10.1007/s00520-015-2699-4 · 2.36 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Patient-reported outcome (PRO) measures, such as quality of life, have been associated with relevant clinical end points and are prognostic for survival outcomes in a variety of solid cancers in adults. In the past few years, PROs have garnered a greater influence as established and clinically relevant measures that could alter the current paradigm of practice-changing therapeutic advances, as it has been recognized that classic clinical end points do not accurately portray a full appreciation of the benefits, risks and costs of therapy. In this Review, we comprehensively assess the correlation of PROs with treatment response and survival, and explore tumour-related and patient-centric composite end points in patients with cancer participating in clinical trials. Comparisons or composite end points that consider tumour-related and PRO components might help health-care providers, patients with cancer and decision makers to better understand the total clinical benefit of therapeutic interventions.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: We searched MEDLINE, EMBASE and the Cochrane Controlled Trials Register to determine whether oxygen relieves dyspnoea in mildly or non-hypoxemic COPD and included 18 randomised controlled trials (431 participants) in the meta-analysis using Cochrane methodology. Oxygen therapy reduced dyspnoea when compared with medical air; standardised mean difference -0.37 (95% CI -0.50 to -0.24; I(2)=14%). In a priori subgroup and sensitivity analyses, dyspnoea was reduced by continuous oxygen during exertion but not short-burst oxygen therapy. Continuous exertional oxygen can relieve dyspnoea in mildly or non-hypoxemic COPD, but evidence from larger clinical trials is needed.
Published by the BMJ Publishing Group Limited. For permission to use (where not already granted under a licence) please go to http://group.bmj.com/group/rights-licensing/permissions.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Purpose:
To identify insured services that are most important to Medicare beneficiaries with cancer and their family caregivers when coverage is limited.
A total of 440 participants (patients, n = 246; caregivers, n = 194) were enrolled onto the CHAT (Choosing Health Plans All Together) study from August 2010 to March 2013. The exercise elicited preferences about what benefits Medicare should cover for patients with cancer in their last 6 months of life. Facilitated sessions lasted 2.5 hours, included 8 to 10 participants, and focused on choices about Medicare health benefits within the context of a resource-constrained environment.
Six of 15 benefit categories were selected by > 80% of participants: cancer care, prescription drugs, primary care, home care, palliative care, and nursing home coverage. Only 12% of participants chose the maximum level of cancer benefits, a level of care commonly financed in the Medicare program. Between 40% and 50% of participants chose benefits not currently covered by Medicare: unrestricted cash, concurrent palliative care, and home-based long-term care. Nearly one in five participants picked some level of each of these three benefit categories and allocated on average 30% of their resources toward them.
The mismatch between covered benefits and participant preferences shows that addressing quality of life and the financial burden of care is a priority for a substantial subset of patients with cancer in the Medicare program. Patient and caregiver preferences can be elicited, and the choices they express could suggest potential for Medicare benefit package reform and flexibility.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Background
Concerns about unsustainable costs in the US Medicare program loom as the number of retirees increase and experiences serious and costly illnesses like cancer. Engagement of stakeholders, particularly cancer patients and their families, in prioritizing insured services offers a valuable strategy for informing Medicare coverage policy. We designed and evaluated a decision exercise that allowed cancer patients and family members to choose Medicare benefits for advanced cancer patients.
The decision tool, Choosing Health plans All Together (CHAT) was modified to select services for advanced cancer patients. Patients with a cancer history (N = 246) and their family members (N = 194) from North Carolina participated in 70 CHAT sessions. Variables including participants’ socio-demographic characteristics, health status, assessments of the exercise and results of group benefit selections were collected. Routine descriptive statistics summarized participant characteristics and Fisher’s exact test compared group differences. Qualitative analysis of group discussions were used to ascertain reasons for or against selecting benefits.
Patients and family members (N = 440) participated in 70 CHAT exercises. Many groups opted for such services as palliative care, nursing facilities, and services not currently covered by the Medicare program. In choosing among four levels of cancer treatment coverage, no groups chose basic coverage, 27 groups (39%) selected intermediate coverage, 39 groups (56%) selected high coverage, and 4 groups (6%) chose the most comprehensive cancer coverage. Reasons for or against benefit selection included fairness, necessity, need for prioritizing, personal experience, attention to family needs, holistic health outlook, preference for comfort, freedom of choice, and beliefs about the proper role of government. Participants found the exercise very easy (59%) or fairly easy (39%) to understand and very informative (66%) or fairly informative (31%). The majority agreed that the CHAT exercise led to fair decisions about priorities for coverage by which they could abide.
It is possible to involve cancer patients and families in explicit discussions of their priorities for affordable advanced cancer care through the use of decision tools designed for this purpose. A key question is whether such a conversation is possible on a broader, national level.
BMC Health Services Research 07/2014; 14(1):315. DOI:10.1186/1472-6963-14-315 · 1.71 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Background:
Little is known about the association between patient-oncologist discussion of cancer treatment out-of-pocket (OOP) cost and medication adherence, a critical component of quality cancer care.
We surveyed insured adults receiving anticancer therapy. Patients were asked if they had discussed OOP cost with their oncologist. Medication nonadherence was defined as skipping doses or taking less medication than prescribed to make prescriptions last longer, or not filling prescriptions because of cost. Multivariable analysis assessed the association between nonadherence and cost discussions.
Among 300 respondents (86% response), 16% (n = 49) reported high or overwhelming financial distress. Nineteen percent (n = 56) reported talking to their oncologist about cost. Twenty-seven percent (n = 77) reported medication nonadherence. To make a prescription last longer, 14% (n = 42) skipped medication doses, and 11% (n = 33) took less medication than prescribed; 22% (n = 66) did not fill a prescription because of cost. Five percent (n = 14) reported chemotherapy nonadherence. To make a prescription last longer, 1% (n = 3) skipped chemotherapy doses, and 2% (n = 5) took less chemotherapy; 3% (n = 10) did not fill a chemotherapy prescription because of cost. In adjusted analyses, cost discussion (odds ratio [OR] = 2.58; 95% CI, 1.14 to 5.85; P = .02), financial distress (OR = 1.64, 95% CI, 1.38 to 1.96; P < .001) and higher financial burden than expected (OR = 2.89; 95% CI, 1.41 to 5.89; P < .01) were associated with increased odds of nonadherence.
Patient-oncologist cost communication and financial distress were associated with medication nonadherence, suggesting that cost discussions are important for patients forced to make cost-related behavior alterations. Future research should examine the timing, content, and quality of cost-discussions.
Journal of Oncology Practice 05/2014; 10(3):162-7. DOI:10.1200/JOP.2014.001406
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Background:
Health care-related costs and satisfaction are compelling targets for quality improvement in cancer care delivery; however, little is known about how financial burden affects patient satisfaction.
This was an observational, cross-sectional, survey-based study assessing patient-reported financial burden (FB). Eligible patients were ≥ 21 years with solid tumor malignancy and were receiving chemotherapy or hormonal therapy for ≥ 1 month. The Patient Satisfaction Questionnaire Short-Form assessed patient satisfaction with health care. Subjective FB related to cancer treatment was measured on a 5-point Likert scale.
Of 174 participants (32% response rate), 47% reported significant/catastrophic FB. Participants reported highest satisfaction with interpersonal manner and lowest satisfaction with financial aspects of care. In adjusted analysis, high FB was negatively associated with general satisfaction (coefficient: -.29), satisfaction with technical quality (coefficient: -.26), and satisfaction with financial aspects of care (coefficient: -.62). Older age was associated with higher scores in all satisfaction subscales except patient-physician communication and financial aspects. Annual household income of <$20,000 was associated with lower satisfaction scores in all subscales except time spent with doctor. High FB was not associated with patient satisfaction scores for accessibility and convenience, communication, interpersonal manner, or time spent with doctor.
FB is a potentially modifiable correlate of poor satisfaction with cancer care including general satisfaction and satisfaction with the technical quality of care. Addressing cancer-associated FB may lead to improved satisfaction, which in turn can influence adherence, outcomes, and quality of life.
The Oncologist 03/2014; 19(4). DOI:10.1634/theoncologist.2013-0374 · 4.87 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Efficient dietary interventions for patients with hypertension in clinical settings are needed.
To assess the separate and combined influence of a physician intervention (MD-I) and a patient intervention (PT-I) on dietary intakes of patients with hypertension.
A nested 2×2 design, randomized controlled trial conducted over 18 months.
A total of 32 physicians and 574 outpatients with hypertension.
MD-I included training modules addressing the Seventh Report of the Joint National Committee on Prevention, Detection, Evaluation, and Treatment of High Blood Pressure hypertension management guidelines and lifestyle modification. PT-I included lifestyle coaching to adopt the Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) eating pattern, reduce sodium intake, manage weight, increase exercise, and moderate alcohol intake.
Dietary intakes were measured by the Block Food Frequency Questionnaire. Concordance with the DASH dietary pattern was estimated by a DASH score.
The main effects of MD-I and PT-I, and their interaction, were evaluated using analysis of covariance.
After 6 months of intervention, MD-I participants significantly increased intakes of potassium, fruits, juices, and carbohydrate; decreased intake of fat; and improved overall dietary quality as measured by the Healthy Eating Index. PT-I intervention resulted in increased intakes of carbohydrate, protein, fiber, calcium, potassium, fruits and fruit juices, vegetables, dairy and Healthy Eating Index score, and decreased intakes in fat, saturated fat, cholesterol, sodium, sweets, and added fats/oils/sweets. In addition, PT-I improved overall DASH concordance score. The change in DASH score was significantly associated with the changes in blood pressure and weight at 6 months. At 18 months, most changes reversed back toward baseline levels, including the DASH score.
Both MD-I and PT-I improved eating patterns at 6 months with some sustained effects at 18 months. Even though all dietary changes observed were consistent with the DASH nutrient targets or food group guidelines, only the PT-I intervention was effective in improving the overall DASH concordance score. This finding affirms the role of medical nutrition therapy in long-term intensive interventions for hypertension risk reduction and weight management and underlines the need for development of maintenance strategies. Furthermore, this study emphasizes the importance of collaborations among physicians, registered dietitians and other dietetics practitioners, and lay health advisors while assisting patients to make healthy behavior changes.
Journal of the American Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics 08/2013; 113(11). DOI:10.1016/j.jand.2013.06.343 · 3.47 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The relationship between prescription medication adherence and financial burden is understudied, particularly in patients seeking financial assistance.
We conducted a cross-sectional survey to examine the association between patient-reported prescription medication nonadherence and financial distress. Eligible patients were adults receiving treatment for solid malignancies enrolled between June 2010 and May 2011 from the HealthWell Foundation, a national copay assistance program. Nonadherence was defined as taking less medication than prescribed because of cost, not filling or partially filling a prescription because of cost, or taking medications prescribed for others. Logistic regression assessed associations between medication nonadherence and patient-reported, subjective financial distress.
Among 164 participants, 45% reported cost-related medication nonadherence. Four percent took medications prescribed for another person, 22% took less medication than prescribed, 25% filled a partial prescription, and 27% did not fill a prescription, all as a result of cost. Nonadherent participants were more likely than adherent participants to reduce spending on basics like food and clothing to pay for medication (P = .01), and borrow and/or use credit to pay for medications (P < .01). In adjusted analyses, financial distress did not change odds of nonadherence (odds ratio [OR] = 1.60; 95% CI, 0.71 to 3.60). Having a prescription drug plan (OR = 0.27; 95% CI, 0.09 to 0.83) and older age (OR = 0.48; 95% CI, 0.27 to 0.85) decreased odds of nonadherence. Being unemployed increased odds of nonadherence (OR = 6.28; 95% CI, 1.60 to 24.64).
Cost-related medication nonadherence was prevalent among cancer patients who sought financial assistance. Further investigation is needed to understand predictors of prescription medication adherence, a key component of quality care.
Journal of Oncology Practice 08/2013; 9(6S). DOI:10.1200/JOP.2013.000971